Smart City Strategies

Smart City Strategies

The term 'smart city' refers to a city that uses technology in smart ways to improve the well being and safety of its citizens, workers and visitors; to reduce its carbon footprint and the cost of its infrastructure; and to make the city a more compelling place in which to live, work, visit and invest.

So the scramble by cities and towns to develop smart city strategies is understandable. Cities are looking to do things smarter, that is, to leverage digital technology to:

  • improve the well being and safety of citizens, workers, tourists and visitors
  • reduce the city's carbon footprint - the impact of city life and business activity on the environment
  • provide accurate data when its needed for smarter decision-making by everyone - eg council, police, shoppers, retailers, drivers
  • improve the efficiency of public transport and road safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers
  • enliven and enrich civic spaces and the activities people and businesses undertake in them  
  • connect citizens with each other, the city and the rest of the world
  • create a digital environment that businesses and citizens expect and that attracts investment and new business 
  • reduce the cost of city services and infrastructure.

There is an increasing expectation among citizens, businesses and visitors to cities that they have fast, seamless, cheap and constant access to the Internet and that digital technologies are used by the City to make their lives easier, safer, more fun and more profitable. There is little wonder then, that councils and cities are looking to develop their smart city strategies.


Ten, must do's, of a smart city strategy

Smart city strategies are relatively new kids on the digital strategy block. There just aren't enough cities in the world where a comprehensive smart city strategy has been developed and implemented for a sufficient period of time to feel confident about drawing hard and fast conclusions about what works and what doesn't. But that's not to say we can't use our learnings from those smart city strategies currently under way, and from successful and unsuccessful digital and IT strategies, to draw up a list of the must do's that are most likely to impact on the success or otherwise of a smart city strategy. 

  1. leadership - those leading the development and implementation of the smart city strategy need to be highly effective leaders
  2. clarity and validity of purpose - be very clear about your rationale, what the intended outcomes are and ensure that they are realistic
  3. ownership - it must be energetically embraced and led by the City executives and key external stakeholders
  4. consult widely and listen actively - consult continuously, consult widely and actively listen to new ideas and the feedback
  5. balanced, expert team - the strategy team needs to consist of experts across all the domains - eg UX, City operations, technology, data
  6. co-design - the smart city strategy team should represent the key stakeholders - eg citizens, businesses, the City, technology providers 
  7. it's about THIS city -  avoid a generic smart city strategy - ensure the strategy leverages the opportunities unique to the city and mitigates its unique challenges 
  8. start small and build momentum - prioritise actions: start with the quicker, easier wins and then build momentum and garner confidence as you roll out more ambitious projects
  9. 'the pub test' - compose the strategy so everyone can understand it - not just IT people, City bureaucrats and consultants.
  10. allocate sufficient time and resources - a smart city strategy needs to be transformational, so it needs sufficient people, time and money.

Lists of the top 10 anything, are simply inviting criticism for the things that have been left out. So we'd love hear your thoughts on this list and what you'd amend, add or delete. 

Speak to us about helping you to develop a Smart City Strategy and road map.